Seven-year-old Koreeanna Myers is part of the back up band fronted by her music therapist. Her dad says she never gets tired of her favorite songs.

“The Barbie girl and the i-Carly song,” says William Vance.

Koreeanna is no stranger to the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. She spends weeks even months here. A musical break helps break up the long days.

“We get everything from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to Little Wayne ‘Drop the World’ and to rock music to pop to country. Whatever the patient likes is what I want to do,” says Julie Avirett, a music therapist with the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.’

What the kids don’t realize is they’re not only getting a concert they’re getting therapy. The music encourages them to sing and dance.

“Koreeanna has cystic fibrosis and my main goal is to help her with her air movement. So through our music I’m encouraging her to shake a shaker and dance and sing which gets her out of bed and moving. The more movement that she has the more that the mucus in her lungs gets broken up,” says Avirett.

Whatever the diagnosis, music therapy has a treatment.

“Maybe it’s a patient with a respiratory difficulty, so I’m going to bring in the harmonica that is going to give a maximum air movement. Or maybe it’s a patient whose had their appendix removed and they need to walk, so I’m going to bring in an instrument and make them walk to the instrument,” says Avirett.

Music therapy is mostly by request, prescribed by a doctor to children with acute need or for long term patients.

“We need something to help with motivation, to spark their curiosity and maybe give an emotional outlet,” says Avirett.

Both art and science, this therapy delivers a dose of musical medicine.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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